Perioral Dermatitis is a common skin problem that mostly affects young women. Occasionally men or children are affected. Perioral refers to the area around the mouth, and dermatitis indicates redness of the skin. In addition to redness, there are usually small red bumps, or pus bumps, and mild peeling. Sometimes, the bumps are the most obvious feature and the disease can look a lot like Acne.
The areas most affected are within the borders of the lines from the nose, to the sides of the lips, and the chin. There is frequent sparing of a small band of skin that borders the lips. Occasionally, the areas around the nose, eyes and cheeks can be affected. Sometimes there is mild itching or burning. If not treated, perioral dermatitis may last for months to years. Even if treated, the condition may recur several times, but usually the disorder does not return after successful treatment.
The cause of perioral dermatitis is unknown. But some dermatologists believe it is a form of rosacea or sunlight-worsened seborrheic dermatitis. Strong corticosteroid creams applied to the face can cause perioral dermatitis. Once perioral dermatitis develops, corticosteroid creams seem to help, but the disorder reappears when treatment is stopped. In fact, perioral dermatitis usually comes back even worse than it was before use of steroid creams. Some types of makeup, moisturizers and dental products may be partially responsible.
There is no guaranteed way to prevent perioral dermatitis. Do not use strong prescription-strength corticosteroid creams on the face. Your dermatologist may have suggestions about the use of moisturizers, cosmetics and sunscreens, and may advise against using toothpaste with fluoride, tartar control ingredients or cinnamon flavoring.
Treatment can consist of an oral antibiotic, like tetracycline, which is the most common treatment for perioral dermatitis. Treatment may be needed for several months to prevent recurrence. For milder cases or pregnant women, topical antibiotic creams may be used. Occasionally, your dermatologist may recommend a specific corticosteroid cream just for a short time to help your appearance while the antibiotics are working.
Most patients improve with two months of oral antibiotics and/or a combination of oral antibiotics, topical antibiotic cream or corticosteroid creams. Your dermatologist will prescribe the best course of treatment for you.